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3 Mistakes Your Wife Makes (and Why)

Guys, this is about three mistakes women make that may be behind whatever your woman is doing to drive you nuts.

These are honest mistakes, not negligence or intentional abuse. I tell you about them because they might come in handy if you Assume Love and try to find a different, more loving explanation for her behavior than the first one that comes to mind when she upsets you.

Mistake Number 1. She makes you feel like an incompetent child instead of her man. To her, loving is about caring, nurturing, protecting, and cherishing, not so much about respect. It's a hormonal difference between us. Instead of getting angry, explain what you need. If you can do it in a caring, nurturing, protective way, so much the better.

Mistake Number 2. She almost never initiates sex. Men are billed as being perpetually interested in sex. If you think you worry about getting turned down, imagine how worried she is when you're not pursuing her. Tell her you would welcome it, even if you sometimes say no. And remember, she did not spend her teen years studying ways to get the opposite sex interested in sex like you probably did. Give her some ideas.

Mistake Number 3. She equates utterly unequal contributions and comes across as ungrateful for the big ones. Women, much more often than men, are multi-taskers. They have long lists of what needs doing and they get as many as possible done each day. When they feel exhausted by today's list, they more keenly notice the undone items on your list. Once you (or they) have checked off "go earn a living for 8 or 10 hours," it's just one check mark, rather than the 157 you experienced it as and the reason you're lucky enough to have household tasks. She's not ungrateful, just focused on the list. Thank her for keeping track of all that needs doing. Then tell her you're exhausted and will take care of whichever item she's concerned with tomorrow. Then invite her to do the same and relax with you, because overwhelmed women don't take cold shoulders well at all.

Comments

Oh Patty, LOVE this one! CJ and I just had a talk about #1 on our walk this morning. This is the reason I now do all the laundry. I thought it 'cruel and unusual punishment' to keep hovering over him every time he put a shirt on a hanger!

I would like to comment on the 2nd point you made about women almost never initiating sex. This is certainly the case for my wife. I know she enjoys it 99% of the time but has only initiated it a handful of times during our marriage (15 years). The issue goes beyond sex for me, I have noticed though that my wife rarely showed signs of affection, even in the good days when we were not struggling in our marriage. It would have been nice just to hear a "how was your day", "how are you doing", get a spontaneous hug (not initiated by me), a peck on the cheek, a pat on the shoulder. I don't think it will ever happen, it just does not come real natural to her, her parents were pretty distant from each other so they were not good role models for her growing up. My kids and I do this all the time, back and forth, and I love it. She never initiates this with me and only occasionally with the kids. I have read what you said about expectations we have from our partner, the disappointments if they are not met, and the resentment that follow so I am trying to come to terms with this. Are most women like this? I would not really know, she is the only person I have had a serious relationship with. She does show that she cares in other ways I suppose, I suppose it is reflected in the things she does for kids and I, but I wish she could have showed much more warmth and intimacy. I read somewhere that a lot of men feel the same way.

It doesn't matter what most women are like or what most men feel. It matters what the woman you chose as your mate and life partner is like and what you feel. And you can feel a whole lot better by accepting what she's like and building around this.

You say she does not initiate hugging or touching or a kiss on the cheek, so it's not so surprising that initiating sex would be difficult for her. The question is whether it's the initiating that's hard for her, the publicness of it, or the physical contact itself. If you knew, you would have a better shot at creating a relationship you enjoy more.

Say she's embarrassed by physical displays of affection. Something in her implicit memories, the ones she has little control over, the ones she can't put a time and place to, says this is somehow a bit disgraceful. If this is the case, while you're enjoying exchanging them with your kids, you're tainting yourself and them for her. This doesn't mean you need to stop. It does mean that adding any disdain for her reaction pushes all of you even further apart, while acceptance of it would pull you closer together. Taking the extra step of talking with her about ways to reduce her discomfort, such as tailoring your displays to where you are or who's around, would show caring and kindness. This will bring you closer, too.

Or say she's just no good at initiating them, but she would like to be hugged or touched or kissed. What is happening in her story of your marriage when she sees you and the kids getting what she longs for? You were good at this from the start and they learned quickly. How must it feel to still not know when or how to do this? And how much harder does it get as the rest of you initiate less in her direction or you show your resentment toward her? How could you invite her to learn this language all of you speak at this late date and make her comfortable as a tentative beginner with a lot of memories of failing at it over the years?

How can you tell the difference? Initiate. Several times, when she's not visibly angry with you. If she usually accepts and doesn't blush, you will know which one it is. You will know that while you cannot expect her to initiate much right now, she's probably willing to learn. While she's learning, appreciate the other ways she shows you her love. Acknowledge that she may be learning a way you are much more skilled at, but she's already quite skilled in other ways.

While she's learning, make yourself an easy target. When you're within touching or kissing distance, relax and smile. When you're not, move closer. When a hug might be appropriate, get your arms ready for one. If you're hugging a kid, make it a group hug.

If she's willing to learn, she will also need to learn the difference between initiating affection and sex. If you're in the mood for sex and get turned on by her efforts to initiate affection, watch how you handle it, because she will feel less confident expressing affection if it's taken as initiating sex when she did not intend this.

Ed: My wife is similar. Physical touch is what makes me feel most loved, and how I instinctually show love for my wife. For her, it's really not that important - being listenend to and doing things together is what makes her feel loved. You may want to get a copy of The 5 Languages of Love, and read it as a couple. We discovered some of the concepts on our own, but it took a long time. While I still touch my wife when I want to show her my love, I also need to remember to show it in ways that she'll respond to more. And when she wants to show her love to me, she makes touch a larger part of it - a hug, a hand on the shoulder. She still doesn't usually initiate sex, though every so often, she does. It's probably happened as many times in the last year as it did in the prior 10 years of our marriage.

Tom, thanks for helping Ed and who knows how many other men reading this post! I second your recommendation of Gary Chapman's book.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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